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Advocates mark last gas tax hike anniversary

Advocates mark last gas tax hike anniversary
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Transportation advocates marked the 21st anniversary of the last increase in the federal gas tax on Wednesday as they lamented the lack of movement in the levy that is used to pay for infrastructure improvements in recent years.

The tax, which was raised to its current level of 18.4 cents-per-gallon in 1993, has been the source of controversy for a generation of politicians who have been leery of asking drivers to pay more to help build roads and bridges in the nation.

American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Randall Over said the lack of movement in the gas tax in two decades has drastically reduced the federal government's ability to maintain the nation's infrastructure.

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“Today the federal gas tax’s 18.4-cent rate turns 21. While this is a rite of passage for American college students, this milestone is a sad reflection on Congressional inaction when it comes to our transportation system," Over said in a statement.

"According to the Consumer Price Index many household prices have nearly doubled in the past 21 years," he continued. "Meanwhile, without an increase to the gas tax, it has lost 38 percent of its purchasing power."

Democrats in Congress pushed to include an increase in the gas tax in a highway bill that was debated over the summer.

Lawmakers dawdled on passing a long-term extension of the highway funding, which was projected to run out in August, however.

Instead they opted to use money from other areas of the federal budget to pass a temporary extension of the transportation funding that last until May 2015 and leaves the gas tax unchanged.

Democrats have promised to highlight the transportation funding in the closing month of campaigning before the November midterm election.